World / Asia-Pacific

Thailand's new election not expected in one year

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-05-27 20:17

Thailand's new election not expected in one year

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Thailand's new election not expected in one year

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BANGKOK - Thailand's coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha failed to give a timeframe about the next election after he was endorsed as chairman of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) by a royal command Monday, but some Thai academics believe a new election is unlikely to take place within a year.

Prayuth has vowed to implement sweeping reforms before elections, saying democracy will return once peace and order is restored in the country.

"The minimum, we will not have the election in a have to remember we have to have political reforms and new constitution and that will take time," a renowned political analyst from Chulalongkorn University told Xinhua.

The military junta officially abrogated the constitution soon following Thursday's coup, with only section 2, which states " Thailand adopts a democratic regime of government with the king as head of state" being kept.

With the Senate recently dissolved and the House of Representatives dissolved late in 2013, Prayuth is expected to appoint an interim prime minister and set up a reform council and legislative body as part of his next moves to lead the country back to the "right" track, another academic with Thammsat University told Xinhua.

Prayuth said Monday that the country would have an interim prime minister and interim cabinet, but with no specific timeframe, and he also sidestepped the question whether he would become the prime minister himself.

The military junta will likely remain in power for 12-18 months, with its reforms taking place for at least half a year, the Thammsat academic predicted, adding it is now hard to tell how effective the reforms will be.

His ideas were echoed by the political analyst from Chulalongkorn, who commented "perhaps in 18 months or beyond, we could be looking at an election."

The next election will be earned the hard way, the Chulalongkorn academic said.

If Thailand wants to have elections again, it has to be made sure that the political party system works, he said. "We don't want an electoral system that is dominated by one side all the time."

He was referring to the side of Thaksin Shinawatra, former prime minister and brother of ousted Yingluck Shinawatra. Over the past decade or so, parties believed to be aligned with Thaksin have won overwhelming grassroots support.

If Thaksin's party wins all the time, other political sides will want to reset the system as what happened back in 2006 and now in 2014, the academic said. In 2006, Thaksin was ousted by a military coup and forced to live in exile ever since.

For the political party system to work, the Chulalongkorn academic said "We need more parties to do better, to play a bigger dilute the dominance and anomaly of Thaksin's party."

The academic insisted on Thailand having elections again to find a way out eventually. "Elections are really about allowing people to have their voices heard. If Thailand is going to become an electoral democracy again, it will have to have elections."

Thursday's coup came as a result of six months of street protests that had cost around 30 lives and injured more than 700, that had dragged down the economy and concerned foreign investors.

The military junta has promised to try to revitalize the economy.

At an earlier economic meeting, a string of initiatives were proposed, including paying more than 800,000 farmers indebted under Yingluck government's rice-pledging scheme, which would cost some 92 billion baht (around 2.88 billion U.S. dollars), and announcing by Oct. 1 the fiscal 2015 budget with infrastructure projects listed in investment expenditures.

These initiatives seemingly are more a continuation than rejection of the Yingluck administration's economic policies.

It is possible that "populism," a label often used to describe Thaksin and his successors' policies, is to continue in different ways to gain people's support, the Chulalongkorn academic said.

But it has to be noted as well that the coup itself has not been harmless to the country's economy.

The coup was credit negative for Thailand's banks, Moody's Investors Service said, adding it increased pressure for already weakened investor and consumer confidence and risked stalling loan growth and undermined asset quality.

The tourist sector has also suffered for reasons including travel warnings against Thailand which were issued by some 55 countries and regions worldwide, the nationwide curfew as well as shortened operation hours of department stores and public transport.

It remains to be seen if the military junta, inexperienced with economic affairs, will come up with effective measures to save the Thai economy, observers said.

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